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President & Chief Executive Officer, The Hospital for Sick Children

By: Erica Scime

From the time she began to study nursing as a young woman, Mary Jo Haddad has had a thirst to learn and grow. Today, as president and CEO of The Hospital for Sick Children, one of the world’s foremost paediatric health care institutions, Haddad is as open to learning and growing as ever.

Haddad went to the University of Windsor, to study nursing and then earned her masters in Health Science Administration at the University of Toronto. She went on to work as a nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan for eight years. Haddad then came to SickKids in 1984 where she held many leadership roles over the years. But her most noted role came in 2004 when Haddad was made president and CEO of the hospital.

Haddad has taken the SickKids vision to heart and dedicated herself to making this vision a reality. Among the key ways to do this, Haddad says, is to collaborate, integrate and share with other health centres in the province, the country and even around the world. She created SickKids International to focus the impact of that collaboration and in 2008, SickKids began to advise on the development and operation of a new, state-of-the-art children’s hospital in Qatar. SickKids staff provide expert counsel in such areas as paediatric clinical services, inter-professional practice and education, family-centred care and research. Working collaboratively with others opens you to many new ideas, Haddad says. She believes an open mind is invaluable for a leader to have.

The type of innovation represented by the Qatar collaboration (and award-winning business model), is formalized in SickKids five-year strategic plan developed under Haddad’s leadership.

SickKids is committed to promoting the adoption of innovative practices across the organization and globally. With Haddad’s example, SickKids leaders are active in creating and reinforcing an environment where innovation is encouraged.

Haddad also lectures at the University of Toronto and is a mentor to aspiring leaders. When Haddad began to work as a nurse she had a mentor who inspired her to be more of a leader. By lecturing and mentoring, Haddad hopes to inspire others to be leaders in their own work.

Although Haddad says that working for the lives of children is a reward in and of itself, she has received over 10 awards, including being made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2010, holds an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Windsor and won the Premier’s Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Haddad has sat on seven boards, as chair of the MaRS Innovation Board, chair of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario, and chair of the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health.

Mary Jo Haddad’s desire to learn and grow is what makes her a true leader in health care.